The Chinese Communist Party’s continuing financial and material support for the Funcinpec Party, which includes the provision of electric bicycles and assistance with paying bills, is illegal under Cambodia’s political parties law, opposition leader Sam Rainsy said Wednesday.
Senior Funcinpec officials said last week that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is continuing to provide resources to the party to keep it afloat. The party won the 1993 Untac national election but failed to pick up a seat for the first time in last July’s national election.
General Nhek Bun Chhay, the party’s secretary-general, last week counted photocopiers, motorbikes and laptops as among gifts received. He said that similar support was given to all parties that support the CCP.
In the past, Mr. Rainsy has spoken openly about his support for the Chinese government—and in particular its disputed maritime claims. On Wednesday, he said that his party, the CNRP, does not receive any aid from China.
“That is illegal,” Mr. Rainsy said. “In the first place, I don’t think it is very wise for Funcinpec to expose this, as they should not be engaged in this type of activity. The law on political activity in Cambodia prohibits parties from receiving funds from foreign organizations, private or public.”
Article 29 of the Law on Political Parties says that “political parties shall be banned from receiving contributions of any form” from a long list of bodies that includes “government institutions” and “foreign firms.”
Koul Panha, executive director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, said that the law is rarely enforced.
“The Political Parties Law prohibits it, but in practice it always happens,” Mr. Panha said. “It’s not only Funcinpec and the CPP, but even the CNRP too—they also have alliances with many other political parties.”
Mr. Panha said a specific political financing law was necessary to set out the penalties and punishments for parties breaking the law.
Keo Puth Rasmey, the former president of Funcipec, said that he did not believe Funcinpec was breaking the law.
“It’s not a political thing, it’s been going on since the beginning of our friendship 30 years ago, and it’s not a very big amount of money,” Mr. Puth Rasmey, who is married to the current Funcipec president, Princess Norodom Arunrasmy. “It’s very small, it’s not billions or anything like that.”
“When we receive things, it is also to help the people,” he said. “When we receive water pumps or something like that, we give it to the people in the rural areas.”
“If we received this during a campaign, then, yes, maybe that would be illegal and immoral.”
Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said Mr. Rainsy’s comments were accurate. But he also accused Mr. Rainsy’s CNRP of receiving large sums of money from unspecified foreign organizations.
“Everybody does this except for the CPP,” Mr. Siphan said. “The CPP only takes money from China to build institutions like the National Assembly and Senate. That is state-to-state, not state-to-party.”
willemyns@cambodiadaily.com
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